It was a day of mourning on Saturday night by the people of Agbon-Eleme people of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, southern Nigeria, as scores were shot dead by gunmen at the popular Agbonchia Market.
Eleme is the host of multi-billion naira Indoroma Petrochemical plant, two Port Harcourt refineries and other oil and gas companies.
An eyewitness said that the gunmen, numbering about three, riding on a motorcycle, shot many times at a group of youths at the motorcycle wash section of the market, killing at least 15 persons and injuring several others.
She said: “The people came into the market with a motorcycle and they were about three. We thought they came to wash their motorcycle, but before we knew it, they started shooting at the people who were washing their motorcycles.
“After shooting, they jumped on their bike and sped off. At the end, we saw not less than 15 lifeless bodies on the ground and several others with gunshot injuries. We don’t know the reason behind the ugly incident.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Ahmad Muhammad, who confirmed the shooting, said only five persons were killed in the incident.
Muhammad stated that one person has been arrested in connection with the attack, adding that preliminary investigation by the police revealed that the incident was an attack by a cult group.
“The assailants came on motorcycles, opened fired on a motorcycles wash point at Agbonchia Eleme and fled. Five persons lost their lives.
“Preliminary investigation revealed the incident is related to cult activities. One suspect is right now undergoing interrogation while investigation with a view to arresting the miscreants has commenced,” he said.
Eleme is the only Constituency in the state that is represented in the Rivers State House of Assembly by a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Josiah Orlu.
The other 31 lawmakers are members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.